What You Believe Could Kill You

beliefs performance thoughts

I came across a study recently looking at the relationship between stress and health. The study uncovered a relationship between high levels of stress and premature death, but only when those suffering the high stress also believed that stress was bad for them.

What I thought interesting is that the group that didn't believe stress was negative still experienced the same amount of stress. They just didn't die from it.

You can view the full study here.

In another study, it was shown that children who are praised for "being smart" exhibit less motivation on harder tasks. After a failure, they then became demotivated, giving up more easily and enjoying the task less. These negative effects were not seen among children praised for "working hard."

Here's that study.

What you believe about yourself and the world has very real and measurable effects on your health, your performance, and your overall well-being.

It matters.

I'm posting this in relationship to this week's other post, in which I shared a 10-minute morning routine aimed at altering mindset. Even I called it 'new agey' in a derogatory way, and I realized that comment may have trivialized how important it is. I was apologizing for the fact that the exercise is all internal work when in reality I should have emphasized how significant that realm really is.

As the saying from the Upanishads goes:

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; for it becomes your destiny.

I worry that we tend to get fixated on actions and external results. This can be great because it helps us see when particular thoughts are producing the desired results, but the mindset can also lead us to trivialize the importance of thoughts.

Take some time to think about your beliefs about yourself and your world. Do you think certain categories of people are evil or untrustworthy? Do you consider yourself smart, dumb, a hard worker, or lazy? Do you think of yourself as attractive or awkward? Or both?